I’m so sorry it’s taken so long for me to get the next post in this series. I’ve skipped over kindness and empathy because it seems self explanatory why we’d want them to learn these things and how we’d go about helping them learn it. Maybe not, this is the internet after all. But still, if you don’t already know this little blog post probably wouldn’t help much anyway. So, we move on.
Logic and Reasoning Skills
Why We Chose It:
Quite simply we know that all true understanding and learning will flow from this.
In addition to unschooling with my kids I also teach GED classes. The students who do well, regardless of age or how long they’ve been out of school, are those who have the ability to think logically. This is especially obvious with math but also presents itself with reading comprehension and interpreting data (which appears universally in all subjects). The students who struggle are those who are unable to grasp the reasoning behind the concepts being laid forth. They may have done very well in traditional school where rote memorization was enough but in this setting that is largely self-led and reliant on the ability to test completely independently they struggle. The students who thrive and get their GED quickly, again regardless of age or how long they’ve been out of school, are those who understand the logic behind the questions. They may not know all of the right formulas or formal strategies but they can “feel” their way through the work, usually with very little help or guidance from me.
How We Facilitate Learning It:
We are a game loving family. We’ve always played board games and card games with our kids and we always have lots of fun. We play games because we enjoy it and there is no agenda or attempt to manipulate as a motivator. However, that doesn’t mean that the games aren’t valuable beyond simply having fun. The best games, the ones we enjoy the most and reach for repeatedly, are games which help develop logic and reasoning skills.
When the kids were very small they had the typical kid games of Chutes and Ladders, Candyland and Hi-Ho Cherrio but honestly, these rarely got pulled off the shelf. The things they couldn’t get enough of were puzzles and Go Fish. We had so many puzzles- wooden and cardboard, shape matching and traditional, ones they could do on their own and ones that required help from us. We played Go Fish even before they could hold all the cards in their little hands- we’d use a box or book to block the other players view so they could spread the cards out on the floor or table. Both of these activities, to be done well and without being overly frustrating, require the participants to have a strategy. With puzzles you learn to look for similar shapes, colors and patterns. You learn to do the outer edges first and then the middle. You learn to sort. With Go Fish you learn to pay attention to your opponent, to rotate the cards you ask for, to act quickly when you draw a card your opponent has repeatedly asked for. Admittedly neither of these activities are dealing with high order logic and reasoning but they are a great introduction for toddlers and young children.
As our kids have grown older games have continued to be a source of fun for us. And games that require strategy continue to be the most fun for our family, both in games we play together and in games we choose independently. A few of our favorites which also happen to help in the development of logic and reasoning skills:
- 15 (a game I found online similar to Go Fish but instead of finding pairs you try to get 2 or three cards that add up to 15)
- American Girl Board Game
- Chess (though none of us are really very good)
- Block Out (an App for the iPad/iPod the kids love involving moving blocks around to free a specific block)
In addition to playing games we talk, talk, talk and talk some more. When I’m problem solving I do it out loud. When my kids ask for help with a problem they’re having I don’t solve it for them but talk them through it. The games really only get the ball rolling- the talking is what helps them apply those skills to every day life.
Are They Learning It?:
They are both good strategists when it comes to both game play and real-life problem solving. They also tend to learn and understand new ideas quickly and both of them ask great questions. So, yes, it seems that they are.